MANILA, December 6, 2010—New World Bank Group Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati has assured President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Bank’s strong support for the administration’s good governance and anti-poverty agenda. In a meeting at the Malacañang Palace, Indrawati reiterated World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick’s support for the overall policy direction the Aquino administration is taking, which he expressed in a meeting at the sidelines of the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in New York City in September this year. “The World Bank Group is pleased to support the President’s major policy initiatives, including clean government, better social protection, expansion of education and health care for the underserved and better infrastructure through private-public partnerships,” Indrawati said. “And we are ready to step up our support if the government so desires,” she said.
After meeting the President, Indrawati said, “President Aquino has clearly expressed his strong political commitment to improve governance in the Philippines. With many Filipinos believing in him, this opens up opportunities to advance reforms that will accelerate the country’s development.”
Indrawati noted that the Philippines economy is doing well lately, with an estimated growth rate of 6.2 percent for 2010, which puts the Philippines back on its pre-crisis growth. She said that the government’s plan to improve infrastructure and to streamline business procedure and red tape should help sustain this growth. “We are happy to support the government’s public-private partnership agenda and infrastructure program, in terms of advice as well as finance,” Indrawati said.
Before meeting the President, Indrawati visited an urban poor community in Pasay City benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). She met with Mayor Antonino Calixto, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Secretary Corazon Soliman, and local officials and parent leaders. She observed some of the micro livelihood projects of the parent beneficiaries, who receive cash assistance on the condition they continue to send their children to school and submit them to regular immunization and health check-ups. One CCT beneficiary, Josephine Manuel, a housewife whose family was cited as a model CCT beneficiary in Pasay, said: “The cash we receive has been of great help. I can now easily buy the supplies for the children’s school projects as they need them and they are now more persevering in attending classes.” She, like most other beneficiaries who shared their experience, said they use the additional money from CCT mostly for the children’s needs like food, vitamins, and medicines.
The CCT is expected to reach one million households by the end of the year and 2.3 million by the end of next year. The program, supported by the World Bank, forms part of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) contribution to poverty reduction, which also includes Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) and Self-employment Assistance–Kaunlaran (SEA-K) that creates job opportunities. “As demonstrated by experience in other countries, the CCT is a program that can make a big difference in poverty, as it allows the poor to invest in human capital. Equally important is the administration’s larger reform agenda in social protection, which strengthens institutional capacity and cuts inefficient programs,” she added. Indrawati also noted that the administration’s infrastructure/public-private partnership agenda and reforms to ease doing business in the Philippines should make recent higher growth rates sustainable and create more jobs for the poor.
Apart from the CCT, the World Bank’s assistance for social welfare and development reform also includes the implementation of a National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. The targeting system consists of a set of uniform, objective, and transparent criteria to select the poor who will benefit from social welfare programs. This reduces the cost of targeting, improves coordination, and promotes efficiency and effectiveness of social programs.
Indrawati is one of the three Managing Directors who, with President Robert Zoellick, form the World Bank Senior Management Team. She is responsible for the Bank’s operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa. She also oversees the Integrity Vice Presidency and Information Systems Group, in addition to providing strategic leadership for the Bank's governance and anti-corruption activities and work with middle income countries. This is her first visit to the Philippines in her current position.